ACLU of Maine Responds to Officer-Involved Shooting in Portland

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
February 20, 2017 10:30 am

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In the wake of the shooting death of Chance David Baker by a Portland police officer on Saturday, the ACLU of Maine released the following statement:

“The shooting death of an individual is always a tragic occasion. Today, our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved.

At this point, there are many unanswered questions that must be examined before we can know if this shooting could have been avoided. As with any officer-involved shooting, it is imperative that the Portland Police Department and the Maine Attorney General’s office commit to full transparency throughout the review process. This includes the release of any video or audio recording of the incident. The public deserves a full accounting of how and why this young man was killed.

One thing we do know is that eyewitness accounts are not infallible. In this case, initial reports were that the victim was a middle aged white man. He turned out to be a 22-year-old black man. We expect there will be many differing accounts of what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting as well.

With that in mind, we urge the Portland Police Department to fast track its body camera program. The Department has earmarked money to implement body cameras starting in 2019, but we cannot afford to wait that long for this vital accountability tool. Introducing body cameras, along with proper policies to protect privacy and due process, will help us better understand what happens in these situations.

Further, a large percentage of officer-involved shootings in Maine involve people with mental illness. Our police departments must ensure officers are properly trained to interact with those with mental illness, and trained to de-escalate the situation whenever possible. Killing a person should always be the absolute last resort.

We will continue to follow the investigation into this shooting, and to respond as necessary.”

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